The Days After...
It's 1 of those times again. 1 of those times like when we were all up in arms over Troy Davis, Sean Bell, & the host of Black males that reach far beyond Emmett Till. It's 1 of those times where, as a person with a voice, I have to decide if what I'm adding to the conversation is even valuable or if I'm paying lip service to points that have already been made time & time again. With that being entirely possible, I consider if what I'm saying is steeped in something solid, based in history & worth repeating because putting those ideals down has partially contributed to the stalemate we've found ourselves in post Civil Rights Movement. Feminism, gay & lesbian rights...have all benefited greater from the Civil Rights Movement than we have & yet we are the 1's who most often sit with our tails tucked between our legs thankful for hand outs. Hhhmmm...
As people geared up to join in Hoodie marches in Trayvon Martin's memory, & the hopes of bringing George Zimmerman to justice, I had a hard time latching on. It felt like the excitement others had over President Obama winning the 2008 election. I got it, but I just didn't feel celebratory beyond the symbolic move of having a Black president. No historian but steeped in enough history to be clear that this was BY NO MEANS about to become what some like to actually believe is Post Racial America. The strangeness of thinking we would be beyond race in a country that identifies people by race--a farcical, unscientific category. Throughout Obama's presidency I have not suffered from the same feelings of being let down as others have because I had no expectations going in. I found it easier to fall in love with Michelle Obama, a natural move as a Black woman who is frequently searching for Black female role models to uplift the collective self esteem of Black girls & women. She could simply BE & the goal was already achieved. There would be no such ease for the 1st Black POTUS.
& it's so easy to do when these tough issues raise their heads. See, we're too far removed from the spirit of struggle. The baton was tucked away, instead of passed, by my parents' generation who wanted nothing more than to believe that they had arrived & therefore their children would not have to fight as they had. What they forgot, perhaps also not steeped in history, is that we've been "catchin' hell" since we landed in the New World. It wasn't gon' suddenly change. Now, we know to get mad when movie theaters won't premiere, or show at all, Black movies. We get mad when stores won't sell the latest Foamposites wanted by our materialistic sons--who we can't fault because we taught them that. We're keepin' it real fried chicken & watermelon but will dare somebody to say so. Brilliant.
As it was tweeted that we send packs of Skittles to some official in Florida I wondered why I should put money in Skittles' pockets? As people took pictures of themselves wearing hooded sweatshirts, holding Skittles & Arizona iced tea, I couldn't find the sense in it. I tried to get into the idea of a bunch of outraged people, nationwide, coming together at various rallies, dressed in solidarity. & then that question crept again--FOR WHAT?!? I'm a fairly athletic woman. I grew up doing sports. I'm REALLY comfortable in work out gear & enjoy working out. So...I have a couple 2...3...4 or so hoodies. There's nothing really different about me wearing one, except that I'd be wearing 1 next to other people wearing them. FOR WHAT?!? I suppose coming from parents & a couple different communities who are about the business of spotlighting causes & riding for them has made me skeptical of social media frenzied "movements." Why? Because it can mostly be done from a chair & a desk or a Smartphone. & then what?
No one has said anything about the day after the rallies. Once the hoodies hit the hangers or the drawers what do we do? How many of us are going to have the conversation that this ain't really about a hoodie? The symbols of Trayvon's murder have become somehow bigger than the reason why he was murdered. & while we all pussyfoot around the fact that he was killed because a white man decided a black teen did not belong in HIS gated community & then decided NOT to do as he was instructed--to stop pursuing the boy & certainly not to engage him. Call me a see.oh.en.spiracy theorist if you will, but I suspect the 911 call was a cover as he'd already decided to get Trayvon. I don't wish the murder of anyone's son but, imagine if you will, that the teen had been white & Zimmerman's name was Johnson & he were a Black man. Where do you suppose Mr. Johnson would be right now?
None of that matters now. What does, however, is still this question of what now? My sister, beautiful young activist & mother of 2 sons that she is, posted some suggestions on Facebook that I think are credible. They aren't new ideas, but old 1's that we have forgotten about. Perhaps it was the turmoil of the dismantling of the power structure of the Black Panther Party, or the assassination of Malcolm X (moreso than Martin Luther King) & various other Cointelpro operations that made Blacks in large groups put down the notion of protecting ourselves & our communities. The ideas my sister suggests, & that I will post momentarily, went into exile for many (not all of us) along with the likes of Assata Shakur. IDEAS ON WHAT TO DO AFTER THE TRAYVON MARTIN PROTESTS:
Form community patrols.
Get training on how to handle emergencies and things that we usually call 911 for.
Have "know your rights" classes.
Have cop watches.
Teach refuse to be a victim and self defense classes for free to our community.
Teach folks how to protect their homes.
Teach gun safety.
Provide cultural and political awareness/education so we value and love ourselves enough not to harm ourselves or each other.
Adopt a block.
Clean our neighborhoods so folks will know it is not a place to be disrespected.
Silence politicians with empty promises, vote for local folks with substance.
Know your neighbors.
Support businesses that give back to the community and speak out against businesses that dont support our community...
& if you have other ideas, PLEASE LIST OTHER CONSTRUCTIVE & PROACTIVE THINGS WE CAN DO IN OUR OWN COMMUNITIES!
The point: DO SOMETHING!
& have these conversations with each other. Conversation breeds ideas. Ideas are necessary. But just don't stop there. Use your tools, whatever they may be.
Thank you for allowing me this moment. This is 1 of my tools. & after you finish reading this (I've NEVER asked you all to do this before), tweet it, post it on Facebook, post it on whatever Google tools & RSS feeds you use, email it to your friends & family. Keep the momentum. Please...
Watch me move.
& to those who may have assumed that I'm a hater for not dressing in black or wearing a hoodie & attending a rally or not making Travyon Martin my profile pic on Facebook, you are entitled to your opinion. I support you right to demonstrate in that way. However, I am more about the understanding that Trayvon Martin is a symbol of a larger issue & I'm about addressing it, not getting caught up solely in what does or does not happen on his behalf. It is because of the systems in place in this country that support the devaluing of Black lives that this has happened now, before & will again until we deal with the larger issues behind this. Whether I wear the uniform of this particular movement, know that I support you.